There's no 'middle ground' on climate change, Sanders tells Biden

David Knowles
·3 min read

Bernie Sanders joined a chorus of critics Friday who belittled Joe Biden for saying he hoped to find “middle ground” when drafting a policy to address climate change.

Biden, the former vice president who leads Sanders in virtually every poll of candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has yet to comment on the Green New Deal touted by the Vermont senator and by progressive Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Bernie Sanders
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Photo: Michael Wyke/AP)

After learning on Friday of Biden’s emerging centrist plan on climate change, Ocasio-Cortez made her opposition to it known.

While the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned of grave consequences for the planet if immediate action was not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the United States under President Trump has turned away from international efforts to regulate carbon dioxide.

Biden said Friday that he, like Sanders, sees climate change as an “existential threat,” and promised to unveil his own plan to deal with rising temperatures soon.

Many Republicans in Congress have mocked the Green New Deal.

“There isn’t a single serious idea here,” Sen. Mike Lee said when speaking on the Senate floor in March about the proposal. “Not one.”

The main goal of the Green New Deal is to bring greenhouse gas emissions in the United States down to zero by the year 2030 after transitioning to clean, renewable sources of energy. Given that 80 percent of the country’s energy currently comes from coal, petroleum or natural gas, that target will prove challenging.

The question for many running in the Democratic field is how to convince Republicans of the need to act swiftly on climate change. A Gallup poll released in March classified just 16 percent of Republicans as “concerned believers” in climate change, while 77 percent of Democrats fit that category.

To help pass meaningful climate change legislation, the next president will have to help win over skeptics in Congress as well as the public at large.

While Sanders hopes that the Green New Deal’s emphasis on infrastructure jobs will lure blue-collar support, Biden seems to be betting he can do so with a plan that sounds less radical.


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